RECAP: In the early eighties, after 3 or 4 years of messing with various altered tunings, I came to the conclusion that my approach was counterproductive because it negated the years of study and work I had done to understand the instrument and master the neck. Change the tuning and I was back to hunt-and-peck; learning by trial-and-error. I knew by experience that that was a very deficient way to learn.
So...I decided to analyze what it was about these tunings that made them sound the way they did and then figure out how to get the same types of sounds in standard tuning. I came up with three characteristics that produced what I was looking for:
One or two drone notes occurring on top of the progression, usually open strings.
Close intervals (2nds or minor 2nds) in the middle of the chord. When played alone these intervals are very dissonant but when placed in the context of the chord they become beautiful. Many times the dissonant interval is an inverted 9th. One note of these close intervals is frequently an open string. If not, a big stretch in fret-hand fingering is required.
Liberal use of inversions to create smooth bass lines. The bass line often "walks" like in jazz.
The types of chords that I came up with that exhibit some or all of these characteristics I call "Unique Voicings" because they usually involve open strings and so cannot be transposed. The context for the term is very guitaristic. They are available in only one position on a single root - thus the term "Unique."
In 1999 I published a book containing my findings, Unique Chord Voicings. In the forward I said,
It is by no means complete. In general, each page deals with a concept that is given in seminal form and the reader is directed to pursue that concept for themselves. I did not have the time or motivation to clearly define every possible application for each concept.
In April of 2017 I began revisiting Unique Chord Voicings as part of the Master Guitar School monthly newsletter. I realized pretty quickly that I have reams more material now than what's in the book - I had been organically doing (mostly on the gig) what I had suggested my readers do; pursue the concepts for themselves. The book became a bare-bones outline and the monthly newsletter became the vehicle for defining and organizing all the material I have come up with since I wrote the book over 20 years ago.
On March 27, 2020, I published, Unique Voicings Are Coming!
In that blog I announced the upcoming launch of a new product download, Unique Chord Voicings. I offered the first video in the lesson series for free:
I explained that the product is a PDF download that contains:
1,303 Fretboard diagrams
35 video links
I emphasized that Unique Chord Voicings will be released only to MasterGuitarSchool.com Site Members for a massive discount one week before being made available to the general public for the full price. Here's what the PDF looks like:
It has taken almost 3 years to codify the material contained in the PDF I am offering to you and I am very excited about it; as far as I know there is nothing else like it!
I demonstrated the two shapes given in that lesson in a couple of unnamed tunes (the tunes were Ozzy's "Killer of Giants" and my own tune, "Latter Rain" from my "Sound Tracks" CD). Here's the video:
S'cuse me, did you say 1300 fretboard diagrams? Yes, I did; 1303 to be exact. Wow, dude that's overwhelming!
Yes, it is overwhelming...if you don't know any of it and try to wrap your brain around it all at once. But that's not the way to learn anything. Take it slow and in small chunks, getting the most out of every little piece. Take the quick lesson I just gave you; you could spend months on the various chords - figuring out how you want to use them, discovering them in songs you've always wondered how to play and realizing there are many million-dollar songs that use them. There are 14 different chords given...BUT...there's only two chord shapes! SO...that's not 1,300 chord shapes. A single shape can get moved around to 12 possible roots. Divide 1,300 by 12 and you get about 108. Not as voluminous as it first appears, yes? Plus, not every shape works on every root, so it's actually less than 108 shapes.
On May 12 I sent you a 2nd email (also published as a blog: Adds 9ths to Cowboy Chords) reminding you of the launch coming up. I gave you 13 different chords derived from 3 different 1st-position chords that you probably already know; G, C and D. Here's the video from that email/blog:
Some of these chords are difficult to play.
Yes, some are difficult. And for a few folks there are a few shapes that might be physically impossible. Still...maybe a half-dozen chord fingerings out of roughly 100 shapes is not a reason to jettison the whole thing. As the 1st lesson above demonstrated, two simple shapes resulted in at least 16 different chords. Even if you wind up using only the easiest chords to play you'll wind up with 100's of uniquely-voiced chords.
I also demonstrated the use of the 1st position shapes given, and how they can be used to spice up a typical chord progression like G - Em - C - D; a chord progression used in hundreds of hit songs.
On May 15 I sent you a 3rd email (also published as a blog: 8 Chord Shapes - 71 Different Chords!) wherein I showed you 4 types of 7th chords in 2 different voicings. I then added the 1st two strings open and moved the shapes around the neck to create unique voicings. The result is a ton of stuff! Here's that video:
Why should I buy something that you've already given away for free and is still available for free to site members?
In short, convenience. The free lessons were sent to site members every month for almost 3 years. Do you still have all those emails? And as far as the free lessons in the "Members Only" section of the website goes; yes, all 32 Unique Voicings lessons are still available as web-page-based lessons. However, I am approaching a 100-page limit on my website and will either have to pay more to expand - or delete existing pages to make room for new ones. I have not yet decided what I'm going to do. So there's no guarantee all those pages will remain indefinitely. If you take advantage of this upcoming launch, you can download a PDF of the entire lesson series to your device of choice; it's yours in perpetuity...on your device.
I'm interested in this but I'm not sure I'm at a level where I can understand and utilize it. Would it still be worth it to me to purchase this and work through it?
Absolutely. These lessons are designed to be as "self-teaching" as possible. In spite of the fact that I name everything and talk about the theory behind it (that's just me!), you don't have to understand all the ins-and-outs of the theory involved, or even the names of the chords. Just use the ones that sound good to you. There is no music notation; you don't have to know how to read music to go through this entire lesson series. There's no tab; it's all fretboard diagrams complete with fingerings and demonstration videos. You need not have gone through my Vertical Truth method - Unique Chord Voicings will work as a stand-alone lesson series.
The big view: There are 32 lessons in this series. If the first lesson is all you did (that was what I gave you in the first video), and it notched your playing up a level, then that one single lesson in-and-of-itself is priceless to you - and it's gratifying to me because I have helped you to be a better guitarist - and you haven't spent a dime! Then think about what the next lesson might offer - and the next - and the next - all 32 of them! Think about it, but don't worry about it; remember, it's the tortoise that wins the race. One thing at a time; slow, steady and persistent is the best way to learn to play.
So don't be overwhelmed; be excited! This lesson series will keep you learning and your playing evolving for years to come! It's a treasure-trove of stuff!
At the end of the 3rd email I said,
The next step of this process will be an email to Site Members only! The email will link you to a page that will give you all the details and the opportunity to download this product (there will be some added bonuses and combinations as well). The one-time ridiculously low launch price will last for a week and will be available to Site Members only.
You are obviously a site member or you wouldn't be reading this page.
OK - SO HERE'S THE DEAL!
The Unique Chord Voicings download will retail for $149.00.
For the next 5 days site members can download it for $59.00!
That's $90.00 OFF!
This price is good for 5 days - From Monday, May 18 until midnight CDST Friday, May 22.
At midnight CDST Friday, May 22 the launch closes and the download goes up on the website at retail price - $149.00
What if I'm a new member and/or haven't gone through any of the Vertical Truth method - is it still worth it for me purchase Unique Chord Voicings?
As I said above, Unique Chord Voicings will work as a stand-alone lesson series. There is a reason why I have not integrated Unique Chord Voicings with the Vertical Truth material. Unique Chord Voicings is a very guitar-centric approach. From an intellectual standpoint it appears to be all over the place; the methodology wouldn't make much sense to a pianist, for instance. But if you understand the nature of the guitar, the method reveals itself. The Vertical Truth stuff, on the other hand, is intellectually rigorous; it is a theory-centric approach to applying music theory to the guitar that a knowledgeable player of any instrument would understand.
The Unique Voicings method is dictated by the nature of the guitar. However, the more theory you know, the more you'll get out of it.
So with that in mind, I'd like to offer another option; Lessons 9 through 11 of Unique Chord Voicings involve adding open strings to root-position 7th chords (approximately 136 different chords). If you already know root-position 7th chords these chapters will be quick and easy for you. If you don't, you can purchase Unit 4: 7th Chords for an additional $20!
Note: Root Position 7th chords are different than the Open and Close-Voiced 7th chords I gave you for free in the video above.
The retail price of Unit 4: 7th Chords is $99.00. The Members-Only Discount price is $49.00. The price during its launch was $39.00. With the purchase of Unique Chord Voicings you can get it for only $20.00!
So for $79.00 you get the Unique Chord Voicings / Unit 4:7th Chords Combo-Pack.
Here's a short promo for Unit 4. If you want to check out the pre-launch videos for Unit 4: 7th Chords here are the links:
Here's Another Combo Choice!
With the purchase of Unique Chord Voicings you can also have Concepts for Basic Improvising for only $20!
Improvise guitar solos from Pentatonic Scale patterns. Includes soloing from basic Minor Pentatonic Scales, adding Passing Tones, adding the Dorian and Aeolian 6, playing through changes, soloing over the Minor Blues, Major Pentatonics and more!
PDF download with:
22 lessons consisting of explanatory text
156 fretboard diagrams
31 demonstration videos.
Concepts for Basic Improvising retails for $99. The Members only discount is $49. Now you can get it for only $20 with the purchase of Unique Chord Voicings! If you want more info, check out the pre-launch videos:
One More Thing!
The 5-Lesson Foundational Series. All site members are prompted in multiple ways when signing up to go through the 5-Lesson Foundational Series. Almost everything I teach is predicated on it. You can go through the webpage-based version for FREE here. The retail on the download is $39. The Members-Only Discount price is $19. For this launch, I'm enabling a 100% discount for the PDF download. You don't have to buy anything! You can download the 5-Lesson Foundational Series for FREE to your device of choice. Go here to download for free.